Monday, January 31, 2011

Gotta Have It


Hubby and I went furniture shopping this weekend. Last year, we bought a cabinet, TV stand, sideboard and a coffee table. There was a final cabinet in the set, but we decided to wait to make sure we had plenty of room for it.

Then the uncertainty of his job made us hold off. It’s 8-10 weeks from ordering the furniture until it’s delivered. We wanted to make sure we’d still be here.

Once we were sure, we talked about ordering it. It was around Thanksgiving and we were planning a trip back to the States for the holidays. We’d wait until we came back.
We may have waited too long.

The salesman was unable to place the order through his computer program on Saturday. He has to call the manufacturer today to see if it’s possible. I should hear sometime today or tomorrow.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Now heading out to get some lamb. I’m going to try lamb stew for the first time this week. If it turns out good, I’ll post the recipe on Friday.

How did your weekend go?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Making Do

I love living in Germany. I really do. But sometimes, I miss the convenience of shopping in the States.

I was looking for some dried violet flowers to make some potpourri. I was able to find all kinds of places that sold dried violet leaves. Not what I needed. I found 2 places that looked like they carried it. One appears to be out of business as both phone numbers listed on the website are disconnected. The other wouldn’t return phone calls or emails.

What is even more frustrating for me is that I know I already have some. In storage in Texas. I remember buying them. I just wish I could remember where I bought them. I’m almost positive it was at some health food store that sold bulk herbs, but that’s all I’ve got.

It won’t be the end of the world if I can’t make the potpourri exactly as I want to, although I will admit that it tweaks the little touch of OCD that I have.

So I’ll have to placate myself by planning another trip here in Europe to remind myself one of the greatest reasons for being here. I am planning a cruise in August. I’ll leave Stockholm, dock in Estonia and St. Petersburg. Short but fun. I’ll be able to add 3 more countries to my list of places visited.

What helps you get over small disappointments?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Free Doesn't Come Easy

I’ve been kicking around an idea for a free Valentine read. It’s actually a prequel to another story that came to me one day. I thought that this would be a great way to give back to readers and set up some of the world building needed for this other story.

Some of the ideas I’ve come up with actually lend this idea out to being a series. I know, I just can’t help myself when it comes to series. I love to read them and I like the worlds I build so much, I’m just not ready to leave. Hopefully, readers feel the same.

One of the major cornerstones of not only this story, but the world building itself, has really had me stumped. I need to have a certain rule in place and I've been trying to figure out why it had to be that way. I wouldn’t buy ‘just because’ so why should anyone else.

I’ve been noodling it since Sunday and last night, I caught a glimmer. I need to think about it some more, kind of push and pull on it and see if it works.

The free read would need to be up by Feb. 13 so, you know, no pressure. Although, as counterintuitive as it sounds, I tend to do some of my best work when my back is up against the wall and a deadline is breathing down my neck.

So I’ll keep poking at my idea and see if it gels. I won’t lie, though. It’s fun coming up with new worlds, so while I do want to figure it out, I’m enjoying the journey.

What kinds of things do you do when you’re trying to flesh out an idea?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Conference Bound

Registration opened up this past week for the RWA National conference. This year it’s in New York City.

I jumped in on Tuesday, the first day for registration. I’d heard a rumor that there was a limited amount of rooms at the conference hotel so I hurriedly snatched one of those up too. Didn’t matter that I had no idea who I would room with.

Turns out, I didn’t have to worry for long. I reached out and contacted a lovely lady I met at conference last year. We clicked there and ran into each other several times. We’ve kept in touch since and I thought of her when I wanted to find a roomie. Lucky for me, she’s attending conference so the roommate situation is cleared up.

That leaves me with a plane ticket to buy. I’ll hold off on that for a little while. I’m hoping to accrue enough airline miles to upgrade again this year. That long flight over the water can be brutal, but business class goes a long way towards making it bearable.

I made RWA PRO last year so I’m eligible to attend the PRO retreat. I learned the secret handshake and everything. Last year they had Donald Maass, as well as some other great speakers. I’m sure this year’s line up will be just as awesome.

I’ve never been to NYC so I’m arriving a couple days early so that I can see some sights. Maybe even fit in a show. I know I won’t be able to see everything, but I can hit a few landmarks.

On a side note, I may be bringing a companion back to Germany with me when I come back home. My niece, who will be 17 then, may be staying the month of July with us. It’s not all carved in stone yet, but keep your fingers crossed for us. I’m excited to have her stay with us.

What about you? Going to National conference this year? Gonna pitch? What are your plans?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

Can’t tell I just watched The A-Team this week, right? :D

One of the things I’ve found most effective in achieving any of my goals is setting a plan of action. I have my long range goals, say a year. Then I break them up into smaller chunks. In this case, by month. Then I break them up again into weeks. Last, I have my daily goals.

This may seem elementary. But how many times have we seen a large, seemingly insurmountable goal and been so overwhelmed that we give up before we ever start?

For over a year now, this is exactly what I’ve been doing. I haven’t accomplished everything – yet, but I’ve gotten so much more work done that I would have without this approach.

There are many goal setting websites out there that can help you organize your priorities and keep track of your progress.

GoalForIt is one that I recently learned about. I’ve just only started playing around with it. It lets you set goals, add the steps you’re going to take to reach plus a place to add pictures for motivation. It also lets you set up a daily to-do list, assigning points to each task. We all like to “get” something when we finish our work like good boys and girls, right?

There are others. Some entail a cost. GoalForIt is free.

For the most part, I use Word and Excel to keep track of my own goals. I get a very satisfying feeling of accomplishment when I can cross out a task as completed.

However you do it, making a plan and keeping track of your progress can go a long way towards keeping you on your path.

Have you used any programs to keep track? Ever tried GoalForIt? How do you keep on track?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fangirl Friday - Reading Recommendation

No guest today, so I’m going to take this time to tell you about a book I recently read. It’s a paranormal YA, the first in a trilogy. Or rather it started out as a trilogy, but there will be more books coming out as early as April of this year.

It’s about a 16 year old girl that realizes she can see those things that go bump in the night and those that fight them. She becomes embroiled in a race for a cup when her mother is kidnapped by the man who wants it…her father.

She falls in with the hunters, and is attracted to one in particular. I don’t want to give away any twists so I’ll leave off there.

What I will say is that I really enjoyed the book. I understand it to be the author’s debut novel, and as such, was well done. The world building was strong without big info dumps. Since our young heroine knows nothing of this world, we learn about it along with her. I thought it was a great way to introduce things in a more natural way.

The characters were well done. There was the normal teen angst amid the saving the world stuff that made them more real. There was depth to them and I connected to them fairly quickly into the story.

The stakes were high. These teenagers were trying to get a magical cup before the villain to stop the demise of their species, as well as the needless murder of countless humans. The tension rose throughout the story, but was paced well with everyday teenage concerns.

Have you guessed what book this yet? It’s City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

I first found out about this series when I was looking for a steampunk novel to read. I found Ms. Clare’s Clockwork Angel, the first in the prequel trilogy. I read that book first and enjoying it as I did, went back for City of Bones.

Now I have the second book, City of Ashes, to read next. It showed up in the mail yesterday and I’ve already gotten a good start on it. Oh, and as a bonus, they're making this book into a movie. They've cast the actress for the heroine and working on the rest still.

Give this author a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you like paranormal.

Have you already read these books? What did you think? Think you’ll check them out?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Keep Going

So who made resolutions to lose weight or exercise more? We’re almost 2 weeks into January. Still sticking with it?

Motivation can sometimes be hard to find, to keep up. What do we do when our gas tanks are on low? We go in for fill-up. We can do the same thing with our motivation.

How do we recharge our motivation? There are several ways that help me.

One is being accountable. If I tell someone I’m going to do something, like go to Sculpt & Burn class, I feel that I need a really good reason to not follow through. “Didn’t feel like it” isn’t one. While not particularly motivation, it does help keep me on track.

Two is rewarding myself. I mentioned a while back about a reward plan. If I stay on track and hit my goals, I’ll gift myself with a new CD or book. If I’ve hit a particularly big goal, there are weekend jaunts all over Europe. Spa treatments are good. Yeah, I don’t have any trouble coming up with rewards and that helps me stay the course.

Three is a strong support system. It’s awesome when you can turn to someone when you’re feeling low and they remind you how far you’ve come and that they’re proud of you. I don’t know about you, but that really makes me want to keep going.

Today is my first day back to the gym after vacation. I’ve got a little ground to make up, but I’m confident that I’ll do it. Then I’ll kick it up a notch. I think I mentioned a running club? That should be starting soon. We’ll be training for a half marathon in Prague for the spring. In addition to that, I’ll be adding weight training to my regimen come February.

I’ve got big plans. I’ve got a support system in place. I’ve got goals. I’ve got motivation. I’m ready for the new year and all the changes it’s going to bring.

How about you?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Here We Go Again!

It’s a new year. Yeah, I know I’m a week or so late informing of you this. Lucky for me, you’re all smart cookies.

What’s kept me away this past week, you ask? Travel and the ramification of such.

As you know, I was in Texas over the holidays. We left on Sunday to come back to Germany. Side note: any of you that travel, noise-cancelling headphones are worth their weight in gold and then some.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t sleep well on the plane. So from start to finish, I was up for about 24 hours by the time we reached our apartment. Of course, it snowed while we were gone. So we dropped off our luggage, picked up the puppy from the neighbors’ (I missed her soooo much) and shoveled the driveway so hubby could get the car out the following morning.

Then two days of laundry, two days of errands and grocery shopping and not to mention a week’s worth of jet lag. Yes, it really does take my body that long to get back into the swing of things after crossing that many time zones coming east.

Anyway, for good or ill, I’m back.

Wednesday, we’ll have another Weightloss Wednesday. Yes, I’m still continuing my quest for a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Friday will probably be a Fangirl Friday. I’ll either have a guest or I’ll tell you about this great new-to-me series I’ve started reading.

I’ve got lots of plans for the new year and I hope you stick around.

What do you have scheduled so far? What are your great plans?